I was waiting for some work to be done on the car and decided to stroll around the small park next to the Nashville West shopping center. Not that long ago the whole area was woods. It was private property, someone’s old farmland I think, that had been left so trees grew up, providing a buffer between the interstate to the north and the neighborhoods to the south. Then, I think, the owner died, developers swooped in, and the whole area was bulldozed and they crammed in as many retail outlets as they could. The park feels like a perfunctory afterthought, probably a city requirement to provide a certain amount of “green space”. There’s a playground in one corner, and some benches, and a guitar sculpture on one side.
Mostly, though, it’s just empty, treeless space. Across from the guitar sculpture there’s a tunnel that separates the park from a few small office buildings and a preserved log home, possibly some memorial to early settlers although there’s no information about it anywhere.
And inside the tunnel there’s a lot of graffiti.
It’s disappointing, though. A lot of it just feels like people came in with markers, maybe some spray paint, and doodled a few messages and tags, a few swear words, an “I was here”. There’s no spark, no real imagination, no effort.
And I had the unsettling feeling that this was all a metaphor for where I am in my life right now. I’ve been in a holding pattern, stuck. My boss reminded me the other day that I need to take some vacation time or I’ll start losing it. I’m not sure what I’d do with vacation time. There aren’t a lot of places I feel safe going, not that much to do. I’m not depressed but I feel down. I need to get through this. I need to make a change.
There’s a poem by Rilke called Archaic Torso of Apollo that’s all about looking at a great work of art and feeling it completely change your perspective. The poem ends, “You must change your life.”
Sometimes looking at really lousy art can prompt the same thought.
I understand, Chris. I’m taking a risk and traveling next month to Disney World (old, familiar places) and islands off the coast of Georgia (new, unfamiliar places). I’ve had several moments when I’ve wished I was just staying put here, but adventure beckons. I hope it gets better.
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You’re very lucky to be taking this trip, and taking a risk sounds like an ideal way to break out of a rut. Things will get better. Sometimes these things also just take time.
I know that malaise. It will pass by being kind to yourself and smiling to yourself Someone will see you smile and think your part of the Shining, or will pass that smile forward. A ripple effect. Maybe drop a hint to a graffiti artist you like to create some new art in that tunnel. Poco a poco.
That’s a really good idea. Actually you’ve offered several good ideas here, from being kind to ourselves and smiling to ourselves, but also dropping a hint to a graffiti artist that the tunnel could use some new (and, let’s say it, better) art. I don’t know any artists personally but maybe I can find a way to reach some through social media.
enjoy the colourful guitar before the state legislators see it. will be interesting to see your change. this morning i took a 9-mile hike, greeted a terrapin, saw dozens of goldfinches flying up from a field of dried sunflowers, and back near home san francesco took off from a lake in the form of a great heron. everybody’s life developed a bit of a charlie-horse during covidity, remember what the futbollers say, ‘walk it off walk it off!’
Walking it off is really good advice and it’s something I haven’t been doing lately. I’ve got a stationary bike but, you know, the scenery never changes. It’s a bit like being at the back of a sled dog pack. I think I need to get out and walk a bit more. It would also help with the old spare tire which has gotten bigger over the last two years.
Maybe go somewhere where there’s lots of art. Come to Toronto, visit the Art Gallery of Ontario, see the Group of Seven exhibit. We’re safe up here (relatively) and we have awesome graffiti ?
From what I’ve heard Toronto is quite a bit safer than Nashville, although we do have some nice art here too. It’s just a matter of getting out and seeing it. Even where I feel I can go out parking is also an issue. I think I may need to just bite the bullet and get back out there, although I think there are ways to do that safely. And better to bite the bullet than shoot it.
Well, you don’t need a car in downtown Toronto—public transit to everywhere!
I read this post last night and have been thinking about it since. I have no idea what’s on your bucket list (or if you have one), but I hope you find something or some things to do to get you out of your rut. If you have the time, energy and resources, consider doing something that’s on it. BTW, whatever you think this sad place with the meh graffiti means to you, only use it as a catalyst and appreciate it if it turns out to be a gift for making you aware that you want something…more. Life-affirming and soul-satisfying experiences are what you are looking for, my friend. So do something that you wouldn’t typically do. Some suggestions might include (disregard if you already do them or they’re eye rolling to you): take a skydiving class; or a hang-gliding class; take your wife dancing; take your wife out to a drive-in (if you have any around) and make out instead of watching the movie; crash a wedding; crash a funeral; learn to make something new in the kitchen; have a party (if you can without compromising people with Covid); volunteer at an animal shelter (walk the dogs, play with the cats, wash, fold and put laundry away); play with paint, canvas and maybe paper and/or other bits and pieces of interesting stuff and create your own work of art; rearrange or redecorate a room or your entire home. These are only a few things to consider. The point is, if you usually use your mind (and I know you do) to read, appreciate art, watch movies, research, learn and, of course, write, do something that requires less thinking and more just doing. There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as hard, physical labor to get you out of your funk! (As long as it’s a novelty and not because you have to all the time!) My aunt always said that when a man is ailing, there’s not much that riding a horse can’t fix. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but my daughter used to love horseback riding! She keeps wanting to get back into it. She’s neither a man nor ailing, but there must be something to this! There’s always a ton of volunteer activities for people. Food banks, senior citizens, people with special needs, Big Brothers, etc. The point is, find something that you’d like to do that’s out of the ordinary for you and give it a shot. If that doesn’t speak to you, go on to something else until you find just the right thing for you! Whatever you do, have fun, relax and chill or push yourself to your limits (just don’t go over your limit, please) and feed your soul! Hugs, Mona
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This is all such excellent advice. I especially think finding something out of the ordinary is a great way to break out of this feeling. And these days it’s not hard to find something out of the ordinary because my days have been so incredibly plain and routine. I think I also just need to be more bold and be prepared to ask for some “me time” which I’ve been skipping out on because, well, I’ve been busy taking care of others. And yet I’d be the first to tell anyone else that there’s nothing selfish about self-care.
This really resonates with me. I am feeling incredibly stuck as of late. No advice, except to keep keeping on.
Yeah, keeping on is the only real option, and I also think it’s something to do with the time of year. It’s not just the weather–this August hasn’t been that much hotter than June and July were, although they’ve all been pretty hot. I think it’s just the grinding routine.